Jim Fergus

For Booksellers

To my independent bookseller friends:

As some of you may remember, when my first novel One Thousand White Women  came out in hardcover in 1998, it was largely ignored by critics and enjoyed only a very modest success. However, in 1999 when the paperback edition appeared, the novel won the best fiction award from the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association. Largely as a result of this award, and because independent booksellers hand-sold the book to your customers, One Thousand White Women gradually took on a word-of-mouth life of its own, becoming a favorite selection of book clubs and reading groups all across the country. I largely credit you, the independent booksellers of America, for the great success of this book—over 800,000 copies sold so far, and still going strong 16 years after initial publication.

Despite these sales figures, and the publication of my second novel, The Wild Girl in 2005, I have been unable to place my last two novels [Marie-Blanche (2011), and Chrysis (2013)] with American publishers…at least partly, I believe, because there are no Indians in them. Yet both books have been published in France, where they have enjoyed rave reviews and robust sales. It appears that publishers in America (and perhaps readers, as well) increasingly want authors to write the same book over and over again. As a result, I seem to have been typecast as a writer of Western historical fiction, with Indians. Actually, there is a Native American character in my new novel, but he is a gay Sioux artist in 1920s Paris, clearly not what publishers here are looking for from me.

All of this to say, I have finally been forced to self-publish in my own country. The result is my novel, The Memory of Love, ( the English edition of Chrysis). Although a very different book from my previous works, I believe it’s a good read, and I’m very proud of it. It is also a novel close to my heart as revealed in the foreword. Feedback from readers, both of the French edition and this one, has been exceptionally positive, and the book clubs I have heard from who have selected it have all reported lively discussions. Indeed, the French translation, Chrysis, was voted the best novel of 2013 by readers of the French Book-of-the-Month-Club (Grand Livre du Mois).

I know that due to single vendor issues, and the difficulty of purchasing books at a viable discount, many independent booksellers are reluctant to take on self-published titles. As a consequence, I have worked out a wholesale program through my LLC, specifically designed for independents. I believe that my discount schedule is competitive with that of any traditional book distributor or publisher. The Memory of Love (a book of trade paperback quality) is retail priced at $14.95. I am offering a 50% discount off retail, with a minimum order of 4 copies. I also offer free standard shipping with 10-12 day delivery time. (Expedited shipping is available at an additional charge.)

I have always been a great supporter of independent booksellers, whom I so admire for your dedication to literature, learning and literacy. Clearly, no one goes into your profession expecting to grow rich, rather you do it for the pure love of books. You represent to me both the past and the future of reading. I think of the thousands of hours ever since I was a young boy that I have spent in the warm embrace of your stores—browsing your shelves, reading in your easy chairs, listening to your recommendations, dreaming of new worlds to explore in the variety of titles you offer—holding real, flesh and blood books in my hands, even the scent of them promising new adventures, new paths, new knowledge. No digital ordering experience can match that pleasure or that sense of intimacy. Despite the hard times you have all suffered during these past years, I believe that there is currently a renaissance underway, that readers like me who cherish your existence and the experience you offer, are coming back to you in the same way we are rediscovering the pleasures of local merchants, farmers’ markets, local produce, products and restaurants. I believe that American culture is shifting away from the giant chains, the box stores, and the soul-deadening nature of the online ordering experience. And I further believe that the very survival of our planet depends on nurturing our local neighborhoods.

I would be delighted to send a compliment copy of The Memory of Love to any qualified independent bookseller in America who requests one. (This offer does not apply to owners of stores selling exclusively used books.) These copies can be ordered via my email link at the bottom of each page of this website. In your request, please include the name and address of your store, as well as the name of the booksellers association to which you belong, if this be the case. If not, please provide some other viable proof of your status as an independent book store.

 I believe you’ll enjoy this novel.

 Thank you, and good reading!

 Jim Fergus